Top 10 Free Things to do
Surfs up – Bag some waves at surf spots around Dun Loughin beach. Stunning beaches all along the Coastline of Connemara, you can chill out and sunbath, enjoy a morning swim or jump off the rocks, maybe go crab fishing with the kids.
Or if you fancy something a little more adventurous bring along your own kayak, dinghy, canoe or go scuba diving on anyone of the local fabulous sandy beaches around.
Geocachers have been an almost secret community until recent years, it is now a rapidly growing trend. Caches are hidden all over the world, these caches have no value except to see how many you can find. This is great fun for friends and families looking for an adventure for the day often taking you to fantastic places you’d never manage to find on your own.
Geocaching is an activity which combines a love of the outdoors with the use of highly sophisticated modern technology. Basically geocaching is like a traditional treasure hunt, but instead of having a paper map with an X marking the spot, “cachers” use a handheld portable device, around the size of a mobile phone, called a Global Positioning System receiver (or GPS as its more commonly known) to locate their position on the earth’s surface. Using a system of dedicated satellites, a GPS can accurately and rapidly give a user their coordinates. If a user knows the coordinates of a particular thing on the earth’s surface the GPS can guide the user to this item, showing the user’s distance and direction from the item. Geocaching uses this functionality to enable cachers to place some treasure (a cache) at a particular location and then share the coordinates with the rest of the geocaching community (through the official geocaching webpage ). Other cachers can then programme these coordinates into their GPS and go hunting! When they find the cache they can log their visit in the logbook and exchange an item in the cache for an item they have brought.
Connemara has some great Geocaches, Inishbofin , Omey Island, Diamond Hill, Kylemore Abbey, the Alcock & Brown monument in Errislannan, Errisbeg Hill in Roundstone to mention but a few. Checkout the Geocaching website geocaching.com. Have fun !!!
Connemara National Park, covers some 2,957 hectares of scenicmountains, expanses of bogs, heaths, grasslands and woodlands. A number of walking trails beginning at the Visitor Centre offer walkers a variety of scenic routes and nature trails through the park. Stunning vistas from the 400-metre high Diamond Hill include the distant islands of Inishbofin, Inishturk and Inishshark, and the turreted Kylemore Abbey. The park is also home to Connemara ponies, red deer and an enormous variety of birdlife, including skylarks, stonechats and peregrine falcons.Other remnants of times past include ruined houses, a disused lime kiln, old sheep pens, an ice house, ancient walls and Tobar Mweelin, a well which was formerly used to supply water to Kylemore Castle.
The Visitor Centre features include exhibitions, the ‘Man and the landscape’ multi-lingual audio visual show and tea room (seasonal). Entrance to the Visitor Centre is free of charge. A summer programme of guided walks and special events for younger visitors are also available at the Visitor Centre. Connemara is one of six such national parks in Ireland. There is also a playground and picnic tables – great day out.
If its history you’re after, you have come to the right place, around 5000 years to be discovered. The Marconi Wireless Station and the landing place of Alcock and Brown in Errislannan. Capt. John Alcock and Lt. Arthur Brown, who on the morning of 15th of June 1919 guided their Vickers-Vimy Biplane through the early morning sky to a bumpy landing in the bogs just south of Clifden.
Successfully landing near the Marconi Wireless Station in Derrygimlagh, their journey made history – marking the world’s first Trans-Atlantic flight, an incredible journey of 1,900 miles from take-off to landing.
Take a walk to Clifden Castle – (parking is not permitted) Built c.1810 home to the founder of Clifden, John D’arcy. Why not bring along a picnic and take in the splendour views of Clifden Bay.
Climb the 12 Bens:
Doire an Chlair (Derryclare Mountain) 650m – Bencorr 711m – Benbreen 691m – Glengower 664m – Benglenisky (Ben Lettery) 516m – Benbaun 729m – Benbrack 582m – Bengoora (Diamond Hill) 400m – Bencullagh 632m – Nuckanaght 654m – Knockpasheemore 412m – Bencorr Beg 577m
The Twelve Pins (or Bens) are a group of small mountains that are the dominant feature of the Connemara countryside. They are easily accessible from the N59 or from the villages of Letterfrack or Recess. While they are not particularly high, 730 metres being the highest peak, they provide excellent walking and climbing opportunities for the outdoor enthusiast.. There are excellent maps and guides of the region available There are also many other walks / hills mountains to climb locally.
Climb Mount Errisbeg (lies just West of Roundstone) absolutely the best return for energy expended, Errisbeg is 298m (977 feet), views are spectacular. There’s a perfect access point approx 5km southwest of Roundstone on the R341. Watch out for a gate into a field on a 90 degree bend in the road. There is room to park by the gate. It takes approx 45 minutes to the top.
Connemara’s unique landscape and quiet roads make it an ideal place to get behind the wheel and explore the countryside. You’ll have the freedom to meander at your own pace, stop for photographs and detour down back roads to discover your very own slice of Connemara life.
Wild Atlantic Way
If you wish to experience the ultimate scenic drive, consider taking to the Wild Atlantic Way, a 2,500km route along Ireland’s western seaboard from Co. Cork in the south to Co. Donegal in the north through regions like Connemara, The Burren, Galway Bay and Kerry.
The Sky Road drive in Clifden is a popular route in the Connemara region and has been described as being the most impressive coastal drive in the country. The steep ascent along the coastal edge provides a wonderful vantage point with panoramic views of Clifden bay and its many islands.
Inagh Valley to Killary Harbour
The Inagh Valley road winds its way through majestic heather covered mountains and around picturesque lakes. The vista is ever changing from day to day as the slightest change in weather is reflected beautifully in the lakes and mountains. You have the Maumturks on one side and the Twelve Bens on the other. This is the superior drive and well worth the extra few miles. There isn’t a house to be seen along the whole route, the only sign of life being the splendidly located Lough Inagh Lodge right in the centre of the valley by the lake. Continue through the valley until you meet the N59, take a sharp right then turn left signposted Rossroe. This journey along the south side of Killary Harbour is one of the best drives in Connemara. The ‘harbour’ is actually a fjord-like sea inlet, dominated by the mountain of Mweelrea.
Connemara Loop allows you to discover the many hidden gems throughout North West Connemara. From villages to valleys and quite mountains down to the coast, the Connemara Loop route trip takes you on a journey through the heart of North West Connemara.
Start your journey by bike, car or by foot (for the brave) at Letterfrack and head for the village of Tully. You will see some of the finest beaches in Connemara, Lettergesh , Glassilaun Beaches and more. Continue on your journey to the picturesque village of Leenane which lies on ‘Killary Fjord’ the largest fjord in Ireland. For further photo opportunities continue on from Leenane to Maam Cross, then Recess to the Inagh Valley, on to Kylemore and then back to Letterfrack village.
Drive along the R340 which skirts the coastline and offers spectacular views out to sea and inland to the mountains. You’ll pass the villages of Carna, Toombeola and Ballinahinch before arriving at Roundstone, where you can visit Roundstone Music & Crafts, a traditional instrument workshop where you can see bodhráns, traditional goat-skin drums, being made. Roundstone also has a pristine white sand beach at Gurteen Bay, a great spot for swimming.
Saddle and pedal up on your own bike – Our quiet minor roads are perfect for cycling, and with many loops available you won’t have to see the same scenery twice, Countryside back roads creating a wonderful biking experience. stunning views of bogs, moorland, lakes and forests. Take a cycle up the Sky Road
There are a number of cycle routes on offer which include:
Route 1: Sky Road Loop 16 Kilometres: 1+ hours
Overlooking Clifden Bay to the South and Streamstown Bay to the North, this route rises more than 150 m above sea level and has spectacular views of the Atlantic, the islands of Inishturk, Turbot and Clifden town. You will also see the ruin of Clifden Castle. The terrain is relatively flat towards the end of the peninsula. Cyclists follow the coastline of the tranquil Streamstown Bay back towards the main road.
Route 2: Errislannan Loop 14 Kilometres: 1+ hours
This is a short loop. From Bridge Street cyclists can pause to view the Owenglen Cascade where salmon can be seen leaping upstream before continuing on up a steady hill while enjoying fine views of Clifden Bay. A signpost indicating the Alcock & Brown monument is the signal to turn. The monument offers a magnificent panoramic vantage point. Water and stone are the themes of this circuit; the rocky landscape is typical of Connemara.
Route 3: Cleggan Loop 33 Kilometres: 2+ hours
Route 3 is a longer trip north to the rocky Connemara coast around Cleggan, following the fringes of Streamstown Bay. The route passes Omey Island and cyclists can opt to visit this small but beautiful island on foot when the tide is out. Near the charming fishing village of Cleggan visitors can climb to the top of Cleggan Head where they can admire the views of the village below as well as Inishbofin, Inishturk, Clare Island and the imposing Twelve Bens mountain range. There is an option to catch the ferry at the pier in Cleggan to the island of Inishbofin. From Cleggan a mountain road climbs more gradually through a forested area before a speedy descent back down to the town.
Route 4: Ballyconneely and Roundstone Loop 40 Kilometres: 3 hours
On this route cyclists can take in the lovely natural wilderness of Derrygimlagh and Roundstone bogs. They will see the site of the crash-landing of the first transatlantic flight by Alcock & Brown in 1919, as well as the old Marconi transatlantic wireless station. Further on towards Ballyconneely, Coral Strand makes a lovely photo stop. At Roundstone, one of the oldest fishing villages in Ireland, cyclists can experience the local fishermen’s’ catch of the day direct from its busy harbour. Nearby cyclists can also visit the stunning beaches of Gurteen and Dog’s Bay with their pristine white sands and azure waters. On the coast road there are fine views and generally gentle gradients.
Getting close to nature is so easy in Connemara, unique flora and fauna, make it a paradise for botanists and ornithologists, and geologists can’t get enough of our rocks. And with such a range of habitats, in such a small area, we go from islands, deep oceans, interesting beaches, grassland, bog, lake, river and mountain; you are bound to find something which interests you. We also have a range of beautiful and interesting gardens, which display an almost sub tropical style, due to the Gulf Stream, passing our coast. There is also ample opportunity for the artist, with wonderful scenery at almost every corner of the road.
There are many festivals held in Connemara throughout the year with great music and dance on the streets offering many free events – Clifden Arts Festival, St Patricks Day Parade, Clifden Trad Festival offers a weekend of the very best of Irish music song and dance with local and even more visiting artists.
Connemara Mussel Festival, Connemara Pony show day, come and take a look at the Great Fjord Swim this is the only fjord in the Atlantic ocean. An annual weekend of fun and fast paced rugby. Plus many many more events keep a close watch on our website for further events throughout the year.